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Rest, retirement await San Antonio's Jayne Appel-Marinelli

Dan Hughes cued up the video of a recent San Antonio Stars game. In particular, one in-bounds play that resulted in a basket for Monique Currie.

The thing he noticed first was the Jayne Appel-Marinelli screen that got Currie free to knock down the shot.

"Jayne does those things for us," Hughes said.

She's done them a lot for seven years -- and that's why her body hurts. Pretty much all the time.

"I feel like a Band-Aid," Appel-Marinelli said. "Every game, I put it on so I can play, and at the end of the game, I rip it off.

"My job has been extremely physical. I set screens for Becky Hammon for five years and for Kayla McBride after that. And I have a lot of tough defensive matchups. I may not get all the rebounds. But I have to keep somebody like Nneka [Ogwumike] from getting them."

During the Olympic break, Appel-Marinelli went home to New York, to new husband Chris Marinelli. They got married in April, dating since they were at Stanford, where Marinelli played for the Cardinal football team. She had time to think. And rest. And imagine what the rest of her life might look like.

Appel-Marinelli returned to San Antonio, gave it a couple of games and went into Hughes' office and told her coach that this will be her last WNBA season.

"It just feels right, and I feel good about it," Appel-Marinelli said. "This is the end of a playing career, but I don't feel like I'm done with basketball."

Hughes said he knew it when she walked in the door.

"I was at her wedding. I knew she was entering a different stage of her life," Hughes said. "The timing is right for her in a lot of ways."

Appel-Marinelli, who will move back to New York, hopes to stay involved with the WNBA players' association. She has been the Stars' player rep for five years, the WNBPA's secretary/treasurer for three. She did an offseason internship two years ago at St. Francis College in Brooklyn in the athletic department and said she is interested in the "business side" of athletics.

And Appel-Marinelli will continue her work as a mental health advocate, a cause close to her heart as she has a family member diagnosed with schizophrenia.

"I feel like a Band-Aid. Every game, I put it on so I can play, and at the end of the game, I rip it off."

Jayne Appel, on how physical play in the WNBA has taken a toll on her body

Hughes said that Appel-Marinelli taught her teammates an important lesson.

"She showed that you can use basketball as a vehicle to step into a community and make it better," Hughes said.

On the floor, Appel-Marinelli's pro career wasn't perhaps the highlight reel that many expected after a stellar career at Stanford, where she played in three Final Fours and two national championship games for Tara VanDerveer.

VanDerveer regards Appel-Marinelli as one of the best post players she's ever coached, a pinpoint passer out of the paint with great hands and a team-first ethic.

But Appel-Marinelli wasn't the same dominant post presence in the WNBA that she was in college. The player who put up 46 points against Iowa State in an Elite Eight game in 2009 never scored more than 17 points in a WNBA game in seven years.

"I never really knew what to expect from being a professional athlete," Appel-Marinelli said. "I came into the draft with a broken foot and an injured ankle, and I missed my first training camp and felt like I spent my whole rookie year catching up."

Appel-Marinelli played her entire WNBA career in San Antonio, starting 150 games (averaging 4.1 points and 6.1 rebounds) and settling into a role with the Stars that Hughes said was invaluable to the franchise. She is a strong rebounder, an imposing presence under the glass who has made the most of the things she does well.

"She came in here, battled through injuries and worked her way into a specific role," Hughes said. "Jayne could rebound, she understands the game, she can pass the ball. She landed in a place that really appreciated what she could do. She was not going to get headlines for scoring. But she has always had the love of her team for all the little things she does to make them better."

Appel-Marinelli said she will most miss her relationship with her teammates as she retires.

"I've been lucky to get to go to work every day and play basketball with some of my best friends," she said. "I have made lifelong friendships."

But for the first time in her life, starting in a couple of weeks, she will "have control of her own schedule."

"For the first time since high school, maybe even before that," Appel-Marinelli said. "It's time to see what else is out there, what comes next after basketball."